I have a deep love for the roguelike genre. I try to get my hands on any game with permadeath, meta progression, or deep randomization. As such, I am already very familiar with Crypt of the Necrodancer. Combined with my adoration of Nintendo games, the reveal for Cadence of Hyrule was a dream come true. Cadence of Hyrule plays like an equal partnership between both franchises, so whether you like the fanciful adventures only Legend of Zelda games can provide or the sick beats and fast-paced gameplay of Crypt of the Necrodancer, you'll feel right at home.
The Sights and Sounds of Cadence of Hyrule
The soundtrack is a perfect collaboration between two franchises. Cadence of Hyrule includes techno and rock-and-roll remixes for many iconic songs you know and love from your favorite Zelda game, and they are all absolute bangers. If you're like me, you'll be nodding your head and tapping your foot the whole time.
These awesome remixes are undeniably the strongest aspect of Cadence of Hyrule. The only problem is, there's no way to go back and listen to an individual song. I would have loved to see a jukebox or area in-game allowing me to relisten to any of the tracks. If you want to listen to a song, you have to go to a specific area on the map, which just isn't practical.
On the bright side, Cadence of Hyrule has lots of eye candy. Its style is evocative of A Link to the Past with crisp, vibrant colors and a more cartoonish look. There's a lot of action going on in Cadence of Hyrule, be it the disco dance floor effect on the ground or a horde of dancing bokoblin's rushing at you. Even so, sprites are bold and stand out to the player. Every new area was a pleasure to experience. Zelda fans should be happy to see a style faithful to the series but unique enough to stand on its own.
Groovin' Out in Cadence of Hyrule
The gameplay and soundtrack constantly work in tandem with each other in Cadence of Hyrule. I mentioned before that I found myself tapping my foot or nodding my head to the beat of the songs, and this is an essential gameplay element to the game. You move your character as you do in a roguelike. It's turn-based, so every move you make allows for enemies to act as well. In the base mode, you move your character to the beat of the music. Skip a beat, and your character loses an action and leaves them open to attack.
You choose between two different characters from the start of Cadence of Hyrule: Link or Zelda. The distinctions between the two vary slightly. Link has a shield and Zelda has her reflecting crystal like in Super Smash Bros. They also start in different areas, and the types of weapons they can equip vary slightly. Later on, you unlock Cadence from Crypt of the Necrodancer as well.
Speaking of weapons, there is a satisfying array of weapons to choose from. The rapier lunges you forward as you strike enemies in front of you. A spear strikes extra space away, giving the player some breathing room if they need it. Consumable items such as bombs and bombchus explode walls and enemies to pieces.
Last but not least, you have a very large variety of special items at your disposal. You might favor the bow and arrow to strike enemies from afar, or perhaps a fire rod to light enemies on fire. The boomerang knocks and stuns enemies. If you want to get fancy, the Deku Leaf blows enemies a few spaces away. The diversity and usefulness of each ability are truly impressive. It's exciting every time you find a brand new piece of equipment to use.
You'll definitely want to use every item and weapon at your disposal because foes give you no quarter. Enemies in Cadence of Hyrule are quite distinct from one another. Each mob has their own pattern you will learn as you play. Bokoblins raise their arms before they attack, indicating that you should either get out of the way or finish them off if they are weak. The ghostly Poe only appears when you turn your back to it. This leaves a short period where you can turn around and strike them. Every fight is a new challenge to overcome, so Cadence of Hyrule never feels stale.
Roguelike Elements and Difficulty in Cadence of Hyrule
Cadence of Hyrule is not a particularly difficult game, even though it has plenty of roguelike elements. Permadeath isn't in the game, but meta progression is. Every time you die, you can spend crystals to buy upgrades and items before your next foray into the world. Afterward, players respawn at a Shiekah Stone found around the world.
The world map is randomly generated for every new save file you create, so my game's placement of enemies and items will be different from yours. What remains the same throughout are certain environments like the Gerudo Desert and Lost Woods. In Cadence of Hyrule, you're tasked with collecting instruments to stop a villain named Octavo and also Ganon. These instruments are found at the end of dungeon-like areas that are the same for each game, but getting there is different each time.
For example, the Lost Woods area requires a boss key to obtain a magical instrument. To do so, you need to delve into Crypt of the Necrodancer-style dungeons which are generated differently each time. If you're a fan of Crypt's signature roguelike gameplay or the genre in general, you'll enjoy these segments the most.
Boss fights are pretty fun, too, although they also remain the same from game to game. Bosses are cleverly-named Zelda creatures like the Gohmaracas (a maraca-playing Gohma, of course) and the Wizzroboe. The final fight with Ganon uses some very clever mechanics and is especially fitting for the last battle, but I won't spoil it.
Cadence of Hyrule Review| Final Thoughts
The greatest downside to Cadence of Hyrule is how brief it is. It took me around 6 hours to complete the entire game and find a large majority of collectibles. There isn't too much of an incentive to go back and collect items after you're done because there's no side content, with the exception that you can unlock a hidden side character. Cadence of Hyrule's replayability will depend on if you like to compete or want to play its co-op mode.
There's a leaderboard that, upon completion, notes how many moves you made and how long it took to beat Cadence of Hyrule. A daily challenge mode and perma-death mode exist as well. Co-op is actually quite fun, but it does not change up the gameplay with the exception of having two players on the screen at once. Despite a few extra modes, I don't believe there is a substantial reason to replay the entire game.
Although Cadence of Hyrule is brief and there isn't much replay value, it's an experience that any Zelda fan (or roguelike fan) should play. The remixed songs are masterfully done, but if that doesn't convince you, you'll love how faithful and fun this spin-off is to both The Legend of Zelda and Crypt of the Necrodancer.
TechRaptor reviewed Cadence of Hyrule on Nintendo Switch with a copy purchased by the reviewer.
- Amazing Soundtrack
- Vibrant Visuals and Aesthetic
- Great Variety of Weapons and Abilities
- Fun and Engaging Roguelike Elements
- Too Short
- Replay Value Varies